Help your child become a lingo ace - how can kids learn foreign languages at home?

You might be thinking about giving your child foreign language lessons. There is a wide range of reasons for children to learn a second language, including cognitive, academic, and social benefits. But starting your child out on their language-learning journey can feel daunting. Where should you begin?

That’s why we want to help you map out a path to success for your child. From building the foundations to attending formal lessons, this is how to help your child become a ‘lingo ace’!

A classoom with a whiteboard containing the text 'How can children learn foreign languages at home?'

Before starting: is it better for my child to learn a second language at a particular age?

Researchers all seem to agree that children can learn languages far easier than adults. There is, however, some debate around what age a child’s ability to learn a language is at its peak: 

Your child can build the foundations for a second language from a young age. Here’s how can guide them on that journey at home, without it costing the earth.

Prepare yourself: should I be involved in my child’s foreign language education?

You might feel hesitant to include yourself in what might be seen as a teacher’s realm of expertise. But evidence suggests that participating in your child’s learning is an extremely beneficial practice.

The Education Endowment Foundation conducted studies to look into this issue. They wanted to find out whether parents should share a teacher’s responsibility to help students achieve academic success. The findings from the research are clear: Parental engagement in a child’s learning gives the child an average of four months of extra progress per year. That’s pretty staggering!

Parents’ involvement in the learning process is particularly effective for literacy and reading - so you might want to read our useful post on ‘What is Phonics?’, the starting point for reading. Additionally, it is shown that parental engagement yields its highest potential for young children. Effects were highest in preschool children, but are also high for children attending primary school.

First steps: How can I help make my child a lingo ace at home?

There are plenty of ways to help your child learn a language at home. Let’s look at some steps you can take to help your budding lingo ace:

1. Create a positive foreign language learning environment

Learning a language can feel tough. Make sure to give your child lots of attention and support throughout this process. Encourage them to improve on their mistakes, and show your excitement at their progress.

On top of that, have resources around. Be willing and available to help them access that book that’s on the high shelf, or try putting stickers in the foreign language on objects, naming each one.

2. Read books in the language your child is learning

A tried and true method for helping children who are learning a foreign language is to read simple stories in that language. Reading books with your child will introduce them (and you) to new vocabulary and grammar within the context of a narrative. 

3. Watch cartoons/shows in the language

A fun way to immerse your kids into the spoken element of the language is television shows/cartoons. Your kid will love watching the TV together and discussing what is happening, and you’ll know that their language knowledge is being reinforced while they watch.

Try using a show they already enjoy and find out if it is dubbed in the language they are learning. Why not watch Thomas and Friends in Spanish on Netflix? Or Spongebob in Cantonese?

4. Sing songs in the language

Children’s songs are catchy and simple. That means that kids can often learn songs within a matter of minutes! Using rhythm, melody, movement, and repetition, you can get your child singing in Spanish in no time.

5. Play games in the language

Children will always find a way to turn something into a game. So why not add a little education into their entertainment?

‘Gamification’ is a fantastic way to keep kids engaged while learning. There are plenty of resources out there to use, whether they’re physical or on the app store.

(Check out these free game ideas from Lingumi’s resources page!)

All in one place: Language learning apps for kids

Apps are one of the best ways to engross your child in language learning from anywhere. With constant access to games, songs, and fun activities on apps like Lingumi, your child can pick up language foundations in a fun and interactive way.

Lingumi offers interactive lessons combining games, songs, conversations, and activities in English, Spanish and Chinese for kids ages 2-8.

Just don’t forget that this is not a passive process. Your parental engagement shouldn’t end when the app is open. Be around to help your child if needed, and celebrate with them when they get things right.

Ready for more? Formal language lessons for kids are an option

If you think your child could benefit from some personal attention, a qualified language teacher is your natural next step once they have built a foundation using our tips above. Attending those lessons could be exactly what your child needs to become a real lingo ace.

Those lessons can be online or face-to-face. And there are a lot of great options for both kinds of tutors. Guarantee yourself an informed decision by checking out our guide on finding the perfect tutor first!

Your child will acquire new knowledge during those lessons. But it is still your job as a parent or caretaker to ensure that your child learns outside of the classroom as well. This will help reiterate what your child has picked up in the class and gives practical use to that knowledge! 

Ready to take the first step? Try Lingumi for free for 7 days!

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